It started as a relatively mundane experience. While I had never been in this house before, it was familiar enough, a classic california ranch style with bright midday sun streaming through the open parallel blinds. The girl wasn't there, and I'd be damned if I could remember who she was, but there was an implicit urgency palpable in the humid air that I protect her.
I was armed, I realized. The weight of the small firearm unbalanced my leather, pulling it in an awkward way down my left side. I shifted the coat on my shoulders to enable free movement through the hall.
It was then that I realized she had killed him, she was perfectly justified in doing so, he deserved every blow she had bestowed on his skull. He was violent and resentful. I couldn't recall his face, but that was hardly my concern as I had never even seen him before. She would be back soon to ask me what we would do next. I assumed she was disposing of the body, maybe trying to do some shopping in the lull before her crime was discovered. I decided it would be best if I closed all of the window coverings, that way no neighbor or passerby would see me in the house. Hopefully it would be assumed that no-one was home. I didn't live there anyway, there was no reason to assume I was there.
I moved room to room, trying to be quick, but quiet, and slid each set of blinds closed with a quick jerk of the cord. I looked out each from the side as I did, just to verify that no-one was watching that given window at just that moment. No-one was. The hot southern California day went on unabated.
The last shade drawn, I went into the bathroom to piss. It was cool and shadowed now. I left the door open, thought about taking a nap or looking for something interesting to read on the computer. I finished up and began to walk through the house to the kitchen. Standing on the dingy yellow country kitsch linoleum I was thinking about getting a glass of water when, in one quiet dilation, the shades opened up through out the house. Each overlapped scale swiveled upward in one smooth motion to let the sun and glare pour through my refuge. I was startled, I admit. I caught my breath, my hand moving to the pistol I carried in my inner jacket pocket.
I stepped as lightly as possible to the pass-through that separated the kitchen from a breakfast nook off of the main hallway of the house and, not knowing why, I held the pistol in my hand like a cop on TV. There was no sound but the cicadas declaiming the heat outside, but I knew there was someone in here with me now. I thought to flee out the kitchen door to the back yard, but hesitated, what if the other heard the door and pursued? What if there was another lying in wait outside? Heart pounding, I moved into the hallway and searched with all of my senses for evidence of the intruder.
He stood at the end of the hall, at the top of a small step-down that led into the family room of the house. His back was facing me, and I could see the large television set and bookcases past him against the wall. He was looking from the head of the short steps out the window, through the open blinds. He had short brown hair and a tan sportcoat. It could have been suede, though it was likely just that heavy soft textured cloth that men wore in the 70's. His hair was cropped short, but not militarily styled. He was law, of that I was sure. A detective at least, he was there looking for me.
I took a deep breath and levelled the silver pistol at the smooth fabric of the man's coat-back. It was clear what needed to be done, but I wasn't happy with the prospect. I was here to protect the girl, not to murder policemen, but I would be guilty by association if I was caught here. It was a certainty that I would be culpable for the girl's actions. Had she been apprehended? Was this the vanguard of a larger force clued to come pick me up by a confession? It was perhaps too soon for that, perhaps not, but the situation would brook no hesitation. I had to act.
I pulled the trigger quickly three times. It clicked dully with each pull, no kick, no expected explosion, no bullets fired. The man didn't even turn as I lowered the gun with a soft sigh of relief. Only a test. It had to have been. A trial of my resolve, a probe of my will. I turned and walked out the side door to the back yard and beyond to the side gate and the suburban street outside, the man still unaware of my presence.